Them! (1954)

I’d like to say that when I was a kid this movie freaked me out, but it kinda freaks me out as an adult too.

That sound.

TCM is showing Them! tomorrow morning (along with The Blob, The Fly, and 20 Million Miles to Earth), and you can buy the DVD for only $10 (Blu-ray is only a few bucks more).

Lots of great actors have small roles in the film, including Richard Deacon, William Schallert, Dick York, and a 22-year-old Leonard Nimoy.


Sid Ramin: 1919-2019

I want to interrupt my 1st Annual 50’s Sci-Fi Summer Trailerganza to talk about something I mentioned in this week’s Saturday Evening Post column.

Sid Ramin died July 1. He won an Oscar for his work on the music of the film version of West Side Story, but looking at his career I realized that he did so much more. What an interesting career he had. For example, he wrote this song that became a hit for both The Bob Crewe Generation and Andy Williams. It was first used in a Diet Pepsi commercial:

He also wrote many jingles for TV commercials (“Hertz puts you in the driver’s seat”), including this one, which you’ll remember (and will probably stick in your head for the rest of the day):

If that wasn’t enough, he also wrote this theme song:

Isn’t that a great resume? Add to that his work on live television (Milton Berle’s Texaco Theater), Broadway (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Gypsy) and his Emmy (for All My Children!) and it all adds up to a unique musical career in showbiz.

The War of the Worlds (1953)

Turner Classic Movies is having a marathon of 50’s sci-fi tonight, including this film.

It really had an effect on me as a kid, back in the days when you had to actually wait months (or years) for a TV station to run a movie you wanted to see. Every time War of the Worlds came on, usually on one of the local independent stations, I made sure to catch it.

Almost 70 years later the special effects still hold up and many scenes remain intense and scary.


Monster on the Campus (1958)

Professors turned into cavemen! Killer dogs! A giant dragonfly! Troy Donahue! This movie has everything.

The girl is Joanna Moore. Some of you may know her as one of Andy’s girlfriends (Peggy, the rich one) on The Andy Griffith Show, and some of you might know her as Tatum O’Neal’s mother (and John McEnroe’s ex-mother-in-law). She had a rather interesting life.


You can buy it here (only $14.98 for the DVD or $21.49 for the Blu-ray).

The Monolith Monsters (1957)

You wouldn’t think a movie about killer rocks from space would be this good, but The Monolith Monsters is one of my favorite sci-fi movies. There’s something very smart and low-key about it, and the characters/small town (you’ll recognize the Courthouse Square set from many movies, including the Back to the Future films) setting are really well done. Here’s the trailer.

You can buy it here (only $10.99 for the DVD or $21.49 for the Blu-ray).

It Came From Outer Space (1953)

Another entry for our 1st Annual 50’s Sci-Fi Summer Trailerganza. It Came From Outer Space!

They don’t do trailers like this anymore, where the actors break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. Here Richard Carlson explains this new technology called “3D.” I can’t imagine Leonardo DiCaprio talking to the audience and explaining what 4K means.

You can buy it here. It’s pretty cheap, under $10 for the Blu-ray.

The Monster That Challenged The World (1957)

Continuing our 1st annual 50’s Sci-Fi Summer Trailerganza:

The monsters is this flick don’t really challenge the world. The scene at the end of the trailer where the monster is bigger than skyscrapers? Completely bogus – it never even happens in the movie (trailers sometimes lie). But the mollusks (yes, mollusks) do cause trouble for scientists in California when they rise from the Salton Sea, unearthed by an earthquake.

I’ve always loved this movie. There’s a genuinely tense scene with a mother and child trapped by one of the creatures inside a lab. Also: Hans Conried!


The 1st Annual 50’s Sci-Fi Summer Trailerganza

As a huge fan of 50’s sci-fi films – honestly, I’d rather watch The Monolith Monsters than Avatar – I’ve come up with a theme for the posts I’m going to do this summer, a Sci-Fi Summer Trailerganza (I was going to call it “Trailerpalooza” but apparently that’s already a thing). Each week I’ll post the trailer for a sci-fi/monster movie from the 50’s along with comments and trivia about the film and links to where you can either watch it or buy it.

First up? Well, it has to be The Day the Earth Stood Still, since that’s where the title for this very site came from.

You can buy it here and learn some trivia about it at Wikipedia (fun fact: Gort the robot was played by 7 foot 1 inch Lock Martin, an usher at Grauman’s Chinese Theater). Also: avoid the Keanu Reeves remake.